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Chloe Shakesby

New online harms bill to let Ofcom block platforms and fine 10% of annual turnover

The government has today set out plans for a new law which would allow it to block and fine platforms hosting harmful content.

Under the Online Harms Bill, the UK’s communications watchdog Ofcom would be granted powers to block access to online services, such as social media platforms, if they fail to remove illegal or harmful content.

The bill would also see companies such as Facebook fined £18m or 10 per cent of their annual turnover, whichever is higher.

This will apply to any site that host user-generated content - not including reader comments on news sites.

However, it could be 2022 before the bill comes into force.

Posts that could be condemned under the bill include pornography visible to children, bullying and “dangerous disinformation” - including misleading posts about the safety of various medicines such as vaccinations.

Oliver Dowden, the UK’s digital secretary, commented: “Today Britain is setting the worldwide norm for wellbeing on the web with the most far reaching approach yet to online guidelines.

“We are entering another time of responsibility for tech to secure kids and weak clients, to reestablish trust in this industry, and to cherish in law protects for nothing speech.

“This proportionate new structure will guarantee we don’t put pointless weights on independent ventures however give enormous advanced organizations vigorous guidelines of the street to follow so we can hold onto the splendor of current innovation to improve our lives.”

Ofcom said: “Tech stages should do undeniably more to shield kids from being presented to hurtful substance or movement, for example, preparing, tormenting and erotic entertainment.

“This will help ensure people in the future appreciate the full advantages of the web with better securities set up to lessen the danger of mischief.”

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